PHOENIX — Five health clinics owned by Hacienda Healthcare that cared for infants were operating without a license earlier this year, the Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed to 12 News.
The five clinics are Los Ninos Sygenris facilities. They are owned by Hacienda Healthcare and specialize in infant care, according to Hacienda's website.
The facilities are classified as outpatient clinics.
The department said in a statement that it was "made aware of the unlicensed outpatient clinics" in February.
"ADHS determined that the clinics do require licensure and is working with Hacienda to license the clinics and bring them into compliance with state law," part of the statement read.
"Hacienda has applied for (a) license at five facilities in the state."
“A license is important because that’s the way we can insure the health and safety of patients in facilities," Will Humble, the executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association, said.
"If it doesn’t have a license, it didn’t have oversight as it comes from the department."
Despite being owned by the same company owned by Hacienda de los Angeles, the facility where an incapacitated woman was sexually assaulted and gave birth last year, Humble said this situation is different.
"This is way different.. Hacienda de los Angeles was the type of facility that needed for sure needed a license,” Humble said.
Hacienda de los Angeles had a special carve out in state law from the 1990s exempting it from needing a state license.
Earlier this year, Arizona lawmakers passed legislation requiring Hacienda de Los Angeles to be licensed. After initially being granted the license, the state sent a notification to the facility that they planned to revoke the license.
Humble says outpatient clinics like Los Ninos can sometimes fall into grey areas if a license is needed.
For example, some clinics can use the doctor's license and operate without one for the particular facility. Humble said in some cases the type of work carried out by a facility may change and require it to get a license.
“We wouldn’t be standing here talking about this if it wasn’t about what was happening at Hacienda de los Angeles several months ago,“ Humble said.
As of today, ADHS has licensed two clinics, one in Phoenix and one in Gilbert. The remaining facilities are scheduled to be surveyed in July and will be licensed upon completion of a successful survey.